One of the hardest genres to execute well is the top-down racer. The developer has to figure out a way to make the game work where the controls can be reversed. This provides an interesting challenge, and when it is done correctly, it makes for a fun racing game that breaks away from the standard genre conventions.
Mini Motor Racing ($1.99) is a top down racing game on the iPhone. So that begs the question: does it get the controls right, or is it a frustrating excursion into bad controls and extreme lack of fun?
As you can probably deduce by the fact that Mini Motor Racing has “racing” in the title, it is a game where the objective is to make your car drive faster than your opponent’s. As I mentioned from the outset, this is a top down racing game, which makes the gameplay feel very arcadey and fun.
The bulk of the game is spent hanging out in the career mode. It has over 20 tracks, and a ton of races against opponents of varying difficulty. As you win races, you earn money, which is used to upgrade the various performance aspects of your car. There is a lot of gameplay in the career mode, so from a value perspective, this is truly a winner.
In addition to the career mode, you can also play multiplayer with friends or against random strangers. You can play on Wi-Fi and cellular. You can also play local multiplayer with a friend using Bluetooth.
To put it simply, the gameplay is damn fun. The way the cars handle is awesome. Low-level cars slide like crazy around corners, which forces you to be creative in your turning. High-level cars drive super fast, which requires skill and precision. You can smash into other cars using nitro and send them flying. All of this combines to make some good old racing fun.
I bet you like when a game gives you options for how to control it. Options are great, and the guys and gals at The Binary Mill realized this and included four different control methods in the game. They also included the ability to choose whether you want the cars to accelerate automatically or if you prefer manual control over your speed. They even give you the option to flip the controls, which is perfect for lefties.
The controls in the game work swimmingly. I tried each of the control methods, and I found that I preferred the tank method over the others. That said, they all worked great, and it all comes down to comfort and personal preference.
Mini Motor Racing looks beautiful. It has an ultra clean art style that is visually pleasing. The most impressive part of the game from a visual standpoint is most certainly the environments. Each track looks fantastic, and they have so much variety in the style that it never becomes boring.
The menus in the game are easy to navigate, and the options screen is easy to get to either from the main screen or in game. This is important because you will want to test out the different control methods to find the one that suits you best.
Seriously, this game looks and sounds amazing. I really cannot stress enough how good it looks. I like the visuals so much that I felt the need to include a second paragraph reminding you of how beautiful it is.
The only suggestion I could possibly come up with is the matchmaking for multiplayer. It was not always easy to find a game if you are trying to play with random strangers. Maybe a lobby would help, where you could choose the room instead of just sitting on a loading screen waiting. I did find some games, but it was not nearly as easy as I would have liked.
This game is downright incredible. When it first came across my desk, I was not overly excited to play another iOS racing game. I looked for a flaw; I tried as hard as I could, and I just could not seem to find one in the actual game play. The only thing that keeps this game from being perfect is the fact that connecting to a multiplayer game was not as easy as I would have liked. Still Mini Motor Racing is a game that is not to be missed. 9/10